Sometimes I amaze myself with my inventive genius. It (my inventive genius) first manifested itself when I was about 8 years old. I was on my way to ballet class – walking (we were not “driven” places back in those days since families usually had only one of everything: one car, one television, one telephone) and kids were expected to either walk or ride a bike to get where they were going. Apparently, my parents did not spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my being kidnapped. Considering I never was I guess they were justified. However, getting back to my story, I was wearing my pink tights and carrying my black ballet shoes slung over my shoulder as I passed by the window of Neisner’s Five and Dime on Cermak Road. That is when and where my first inventive genius hit. I stopped and stared at the legs on display. If you’re old enough you remember those legs. They stopped at mid-thigh, were bent at the knee with the arch of the foot raised and on the legs were “nylons.” They were in a chorus line, each encased in a different shade of stocking: the kind of stocking that had to be held up with a garter belt. The revelation hit me like a bolt and was so clear that I remember it vividly still. “Why,” I wondered, “can’t they make stockings like they make my pink ballet tights.” I should have run home and called the first patent and trademark attorney in the phone book. Instead, I went to class where I learned the pas de chat, and jete, and grand battement. And as I blissfully glaced my way across the wooden floor I lost my fortune, my moment, my idea. Because here is the sad fact: I invented panty hose at the age of 8. I was a prodigy; I could have been a contender. Fast forward many decades later and I am now living in an era when women hate wearing panty hose. We wear long dresses or slacks or get a spray tan. Still, panty hose had a good run (no pun intended) and I could be drinking Dom...if only.
I eventually got over it, of course. Dwelling on missed opportunities sours summer wine, so I didn't. That is until last month when, as I was watching a PBS program, I leaped out of my easy chair and was very nearly apoplectic. Part of my distress was the programming. I don’t watch much television, but there are certain programs on PBS on Saturday afternoon that are “mine.” Jacques Pepin, for instance. I was already grumpy because it was that time of year (again and again) when the station decided, in its infinite wisdom, that it was a whiz-bang idea to interrupt their normal scheduling of programs to bring the viewing public “special” ones, the purpose of which are to make you feel like a thief for watching PBS absent making a contribution “to keep these programs on the air”. The logic of these “special” programs has always escaped me. It would seem to me that, since people are tuning in to watch PBS with the expectation that they are going to experience – let’s say, Jacques - it might actually be a good idea to give people Jacques. Why, if I wanted to see Jacques, would I be more inclined to contribute to PBS if I am not allowed to see Jacques but instead am bestowed the unasked for opportunity to see Dr. F? He refers to himself a “nutritarian.” Cute... very cute. I have long thought that the FDA’s food pyramid was wobbly and so built my own. I am neither a vegan nor a vegetarian; I make a standing rib roast on Christmas Eve, boeuf bourguignon on Christmas Day, and Turkey on Thanksgiving. But on an ordinary day I will use one small pork loin chop to make an entire wok of stir fry – enough for dinner and leftovers. Or a single chicken breast in a large pot of soup filled with vegetables and beans and other good stuff. I should have written a book about my pyramid – which is essentially the “nutritarian” pyramid. I could have called it something like the "Gradian Pyramid." Veggies on the bottom, making up the bulk of the diet, and meat used as more of a condiment than as the center of the plate. It’s just common sense, people. So once again I am haunted by panty hose; they chase me in my nightmares – disembodied legs in multiple shades of beige and smoke. I’m not a nutritionist or a medical doctor but I have a lot of common sense and have lived like a nutritarian for ages. I just never gave it a moniker. Had I only known that writing about MY pyramid could have landed me a gig on PBS, not to mention book revenues, I would not have given a fig about pre-empting Jacques Pepin. Although, he is a whole lot cuter than Dr. F... and he eats butter.